08 January 2014

A Current Event

I don't write about current events in Mexico much, especially in comparison to what I wrote in Kyrgyzstan.  I don't know that that will change, or if it's because so much of it's focused on drugs and I don't have much to say about that.  We're largely isolated from that here in Guadalajara, fortunately, and maybe I'm just sticking my head in the sand.  

But there is something that's been getting some attention in the US, and it isn't just about drugs.  Mexico just started a new tax on high-calorie drinks and food.  Mexico has a VAT (IVA in Spanish) of 16%, but it doesn't apply to food or medicine, at least until now.

Mexico has an even bigger problem with obesity than the US does and it just switched to a single-payer health care system, so there's some incentive to do something about it.  And the sugar lobby apparently isn't quite as powerful here as the in the US. 

The thing I like most about this tax is that the revenues are supposed to go toward improving health, and specifically toward providing clean water in schools.  Since some partly blame Mexico's obesity on its non-potable water (and I'm inclined to think it can't help), providing clean water in schools is a step in the right direction, especially if anyone can come to the school to get clean water.

It'll be interesting to see if this tax makes a difference.  It's about a 10% tax on drinks (1 peso per liter) and 8% on junk food.  I've read the Coca-Cola is worried the idea will spread to other parts of Latin America. I'm just glad someone was brave enough to try it. 

And one other thing.  Mexicans didn't favor the tax until it was specifically tied to public health, especially for children. Support went to 70% when the idea of tying the revenues to clean water was suggested. 

No comments:

Post a Comment